Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Olmert: Israel's worst prime minister?

Remembering Olmert's record -Caroline Glick

[I]t is critical to consider outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's actual record of service as prime minister. [B]y understanding what he has done over the past three years and two months, we ensure that he will be properly remembered [as] the worst prime minister Israel has experienced to date.

[T]he only prime minister to have led Israel to defeat in war - and indeed, in his case, in two wars - Olmert wielded the sword with utter strategic incompetence.

Throughout his tenure as prime minister, Israel never once launched a sustained operation aimed at blocking organizations in Gaza from transporting ever more lethal weapons systems into the area through its border with Egypt.

Olmert entered office in January 2006 pledg[ing] to unilaterally surrender Judea, Samaria and large areas of Jerusalem to the Fatah terrorist organization. Olmert was both politically and ideologically committed to the [mistaken] belief that wars are unwinnable and consequently enemies need to be appeased rather than defeated.

Hizbullah's and Hamas's post-surrender aggression exposed Olmert's political platform as both wrongheaded and dangerous. Absent an order to conquer southern Lebanon and defeat Hizbullah as a fighting force, the IDF could not hope to defeat Hizbullah. [T]he only "message" Israel conveyed was one of military incompetence and weakness.

Instead of concentrating diplomatic efforts on convincing the nations of the world to prevent Iran from acquiring the means to destroy the Jewish state and to dominate the region, Olmert concentrated his diplomatic efforts on strengthening the Fatah terrorist organization against the Hamas terrorist organization.

This goal required him to ignor[e] certain basic facts about Fatah. Israel needed to ignore the fact that Fatah rejects its right to exist and openly calls for its destruction. Israel needed to ignore Fatah's continued direct involvement in terror attacks against it and its complicity with and support for Hamas and Islamic Jihad attacks. Israel had to ignore Fatah's cozy ties with Hizbullah, Syria and Iran and the leadership role Fatah occupies in the international diplomatic offensive and political war against the Jewish state.

Due to Olmert's willingness to turn a blind eye to Fatah's belligerence, the effect has been to legitimize all of our enemies and encourage them to maintain and expand their campaigns on every front.

[D]ue to Olmert's refusal to acknowledge Fatah's lead role in terrorism, he paved the way for the current state of affairs where Fatah forces are now being trained and armed by the US military.

By destroying the IDF's international reputation as a world-class fighting force though twice committing it to war and twice refusing to allow it to fight to victory, Olmert wrecked Israel's reputation as a steady and reliable strategic ally in Washington.

Our wherewithal to survive with the strategic wreckage he has laid before us depends on our capacity to understand and remember the dimensions of Olmert's incompetence.
[Jerusalem Post]

The future of the alliance

Distancing America from Israel -Benny Avni

With Benjamin Netanyahu sworn in as Israel's prime minister, Western capitals are in a dither about the irrelevant question of Israel's commitment to the vaunted "two-state solution."

The "solution" - based on President Bush's vision of a democratic Palestine living peacefully next door to Israel - has no relevance to the world as it is now: Palestine is further from developing a viable democracy than it was when W. set forth the idea.

Questions of Netanyahu's commitment to the idea are just a new club for those in Washington who think that distancing America from Israel will somehow solve U.S. problems with the larger Muslim world.
(New York Post)

Netanyahu Vows "Every Effort to Reach Viable Peace" -Shahar Ilan

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the Knesset that his government will make every effort to reach "a viable peace with all of Israel's Arab neighbors."

Netanyahu said. "Israelis know how to spot genuine peace whenever it is offered."

Obama & Clinton's nameless war

Is There a War on the Term 'War on Terror' -Jake Tapper, Teddy Davis & Kirit Radia

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that the Obama administration is no longer speaking of a "War on Terror."

"It's just not being used," said Clinton during a briefing with reporters aboard her plane to the Hague to attend an international conference on Afghanistan. "The administration has stopped using the phrase and I think that speaks for itself," she said at a different point during her trip.

The story began after the Washington Post obtained an e-mail from an official in the Office of Security Review, saying that, "This Administration prefers to avoid using the term 'Global War on Terror' (GWOT). Please use 'Overseas Contingency Operation.' "
[ABC News]

Monday, March 30, 2009

Media Targets Israel

Of Innocents and Savages -Leslie J. Sacks

Google "Congo killings" and the search engine will find you 3.56 million references. The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is 2.3 million square kilometers, and is home to 62.6 million people.

Enter "Gaza killings" and Google will locate 8.56 million references. The Gaza Strip is 360 square kilometers, and home to 1.5 million people. That is one-thousandth of the land mass, and two-hundredths of the population, of the DRC.

The media (both 'new' and 'old') bias is indisputable.

Less than 1,000 Gazans were reliably documented as killed in their last war with Israel, many of which were armed militants. In Congo, over four million unquestionably innocent civilians have now been killed in the past twelve years. Horrific stories of rape, burnings, and mutilations abound. And yet, the media's fixation on Israel's 'oppression' of the Arabs continues.

The question is evitable: why is there such a focus on deaths in Gaza-a war triggered by the firing of over 6,000 rockets at Israeli civilians-while the exterminations in the DRC are comparatively ignored?

Is it because the Congolese are black and invisible people who cannot help but murder each other? Or is it because Hamas and the Gazans have been granted victim status, giving 'activists' everywhere a perfect whipping boy in Israel?

Either way, it doesn't speak well for the evolution of mankind: blacks, apparently, are still savages, and Jews still deserve to be killed.
[Leslie J. Sacks Blog]


Israeli Military Closes Probe into Gaza Misconduct -Howard Schneider

The Israeli military's top lawyer closed an investigation into alleged misconduct during the recent three-week war in Gaza, concluding that charges made by graduates of a military preparation school were "based on hearsay" and had been "purposely exaggerated."
(Washington Post)

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Abbas' Palestinian Authority crushes kid's orchestra

PA dismantles W. Bank youth orchestra -Khaled Abu Toameh

[The] Palestinian Authorit[y] disbanded a youth orchestra from [the] West Bank after it played for a group of Holocaust survivors in Israel.

Adnan Hindi of Jenin called the Holocaust a "political issue" and accused conductor Wafa Younis of dragging the children into a political dispute.

He added that Younis has been barred from the camp and the apartment where she taught the 13-member Strings of Freedom orchestra has been boarded up.

The 13 Palestinian musicians, aged 11 to 18, are members of the Palestinian orchestra Strings of Freedom [pictured above] that is based in the refugee camp. The concert was held at the Holocaust Survivors' Center as part of "Good Deeds Day."
[Jerusalem Post]

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Koran: Israel belongs to Jews

What the Koran Says about the Land of Israel -Simon Rocker

The foundation text of Islam, the Koran, recognizes the special link between the Jewish people and the Land of Israel.

Cairo-trained British imam Sheikh Dr. Muhammad Al-Husseini says, "You will find very clearly that the traditional commentators from the eighth and ninth century onwards have uniformly interpreted the Koran to say explicitly that Eretz Yisrael (the Land of Israel) has been given by God to the Jewish people as a perpetual covenant. There is no Islamic counterclaim to the land anywhere in the traditional corpus of commentary."

One classic commentator of the Koran, Muhammad ibn Jarir al-Tabari (838-923), describes the verse in the Koran (5:21), "O my people! Enter the Holy Land which God has decreed for you," as "a narrative from God...concerning the saying of Moses...to his community from among the children of Israel and his order to them according to the order of God to him, ordering them to enter the Holy Land."

"No fundamentalist, no matter how hard they try, can overrule the existing tradition to say there is, in fact, an Islamic counterclaim to Eretz Yisrael," Dr. Al-Husseini says.
(Jewish Chronicle-UK)

Friday, March 27, 2009

Israel hits Sudan...

Israeli attack on arms convoy reported -Patrick Martin

In a surprise attack, with overtones of Hollywood, Israeli fighter jets reportedly hit a convoy of Iranian weapons bound for Hamas in Gaza as the trucks made their way across the desert toward the Egyptian border. The assault killed several people, destroyed all 17 vehicles, and clearly was intended as a message to Iran, whose nuclear program Israel has threatened to destroy.

It is believed the arms convoy was headed across Egypt to Sinai and, from there, to the tunnels that serve Gaza.

Former Israeli Air Force commander Avihu Bin Nun described to Israel's Army Radio the enormous difficulty in carrying out such an operation:

"The planes had to pass over areas that have defenses against missiles and against other air forces; this had to be done at night, the target had to be hit precisely and not something else. This is quite an operation. And you also don't have years to prepare for this kind of operation."
(Globe and Mail-Canada)

Sudan Strike Targeted Weapons Capable of Hitting Tel Aviv
-Amos Harel, Barak Ravid & Yoav Stern

Alluding to foreign media reports of an Israel Air Force strike in Sudan in January, Prime Minister Olmert said, "We operate everywhere we can hit terrorist infrastructure - in nearby places, in places further away, anywhere we can strike them in a way that increases deterrence."

Israeli officials declined to confirm or deny Israel's involvement in the air strike in Sudan.

Any Israeli decision to attack such a distant target would likely have been based on the belief that Iran could deliver arms into Gaza, possibly including 70-km.-range Fajr rockets which could strike Tel Aviv.

U.S. Officials Confirm Israel Struck in Sudan
-Michael R. Gordon & Jeffrey Gettleman

American officials said Israeli planes bombed a convoy of trucks in Sudan in January believed to be carrying arms to Gaza during the weeks it was fighting a war with Hamas there.

Two American officials who are privy to classified intelligence assessments said Iran had been involved in the effort to smuggle weapons to Gaza and that an operative with Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps had gone to Sudan to coordinate the effort. One American military official said the strike was one of a series of Israeli attacks against arms shipments bound for Gaza.
(New York Times)

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Point-CounterPoint: Obama & Iran

Iran Has a Problem as "Great Satan" Turns on the Charm -David Blair

If Iran's leaders could choose between a belligerent America threatening "regime change" and a conciliatory U.S. President hailing their "great and celebrated culture," they would probably prefer firebreathing threats.

Their difficulties only arise when the "Great Satan" stubbornly refuses to be remotely satanic. President Barack Obama's conciliatory and nuanced approach towards Iran confronts its leaders with their greatest foreign policy dilemma in years. Any visitor to Tehran is struck by how young Iranians have embraced Western - and specifically American - popular culture. By appealing to Iran's Westernized youth, Obama is seeking to widen the divide between the regime and its people. In addition, there are pragmatic figures inside Iran's regime who want to explore the possibility of easing tensions with Washington.

Obama's intervention is designed to help them while isolating Ahmadinejad. Obama's words are designed to help Ahmadinejad's opponents in the June election by raising the possibility of a genuine rapprochement with America.

If Obama's approach succeeds, he will achieve one of history's greatest diplomatic coups. If he fails, America has carefully ruled nothing out. Obama may yet have to decide whether to destroy Iran's nuclear facilities by military means. If he ever reaches that juncture, he will be able to argue that America tried every alternative.

Free Lunch -Caroline Glick

[A]s the mullahs sprint toward the nuclear finish line, the Obama administration is pretending that the jury is still out on whether or not the Islamic republic wants a nuclear arsenal.

[T]he Americans have dropped even the pretense of requiring a change in Iran's rhetorical positions as a precondition for diplomatic recognition. The US now pursues its diplomatic reconciliation with Teheran with the sure knowledge that this peace process will lead to Iran's emergence as a nuclear power.

Sadly, Western leaders are not pursuing peace, [t]hey are pursuing appeasement.
[Jerusalem Post]

Fight for a Palestinian change of heart

Palestinians have so loudly and for so long rejected Zionism that Mufti al-Husseini, Yasir Arafat, and Hamas may appear to command unanimous Palestinian support.

But no: polling research finds that a substantial minority of Palestinians, about 20 percent, is ready to live side-by-side with a sovereign Jewish state.

Although this minority has never been in charge and its voice has always been buried under rejectionist bluster, Hillel Cohen of Hebrew University has uncovered its surprisingly crucial role in history.

He explores this subject in the pre-state period in Army of Shadows: Palestinian Collaboration with Zionism, 1917–1948.

Cohen demonstrates the many roles that accommodating Palestinians played for the Yishuv, the pre-state Jewish community in the Holy Land. They provided labor, engaged in commerce, sold land, sold arms, handed over state assets, provided intelligence about enemy forces, spread rumors and dissension, convinced fellow Palestinians to surrender, fought the Yishuv's enemies, and even operated behind enemy lines. So great was their cumulative assistance, one wonders if the State of Israel could have come into existence without their contribution.

Cohen calls collaboration with Zionism "not only common but a central feature of Palestinian society and politics." No one before Cohen has understood the historical record this way. He discerns a wide range of motives on the part of the Yishuv's Palestinian allies: economic gain, class or tribal interests, nationalist ambitions, fear or hatred of the Husseini faction, personal ethics, neighborliness, or individual friendships.

Cohen also confirms the key fact that not all Palestinians are the enemies of Israel. This offers cause for hope; indeed, were the 20 percent of Palestinians who accept Israel expanded to 60 percent, the Arab-Israeli conflict would close down.

Such a Palestinian change of heart – and not more "painful concessions" by Israel – should be the goal of every would-be peacemaker.
[Jerusalem Post]

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The State of the American Campus

On Campus: The Pro-Palestinians' Real Agenda -Khaled Abu Toameh

During a recent visit to several university campuses in the U.S., I was told that Israel's Gaza operation was launched only because Hamas was beginning to show signs that it was interested in making peace and not because of the rockets that the Islamic movement was launching at Israeli communities.

I was also told that top Fatah operative Marwan Barghouti, who is serving five life terms in prison for masterminding terror attacks against Israeli civilians, was thrown behind bars simply because he was trying to promote peace between Israelis and Palestinians.

Many people I met supported Hamas and believed that it had the right to "resist the occupation," even if that meant blowing up children and women on a bus in Jerusalem.

We should not be surprised if the next generation of jihadists comes not from Gaza or Afghanistan but from university campuses across the U.S.
The writer is an Arab Israeli journalist
(Hudson Institute-New York)


Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Obama's Iran move

Obama Message to Iran Shows U.S. Strategy Shift -Gerald F. Seib

President Barack Obama's video message to Iran marking the Persian New Year last week spoke volumes about the strategy that lies behind his pledge to reach out to Tehran. When the Bush administration reached out to Iran, it sought consciously to go around its leaders and speak directly to the Iranian people, hoping to drive a wedge between the two. Obama's message began: "I would like to speak directly to the people and leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran." Because the president was talking to Iran's leaders, he was effectively saying the U.S. recognizes their legitimacy and isn't overtly seeking a regime change.

The long search for Iranian "moderates" has proved so futile that the administration is prepared to deal with what it gets, not what it wishes it had. The message was designed to give the Iranians what they always complain they don't get: respect. Twice Obama referred to Iran by the title its leaders use, the Islamic Republic of Iran.

The deeper question is whether outreach has any real chance to make a difference. Privately, senior administration officials harbor real doubts.
(Wall Street Journal)

The Pistachio Scandal: US had to pressure Israel to bar Iranian nuts

Israel Switching to U.S. Pistachios -Michael Doyle

While Israel maintains a trade embargo on Iran, there is evidence that low-cost Iranian pistachios were finding their way into Israel via Turkey.

After repeated complaints by U.S. officials, earlier this year Israel raised its tariff on non-U.S. pistachios to 23%, effectively rendering tariff-free U.S. pistachios a better buy in Israel, a country that leads the world in per-capita pistachio consumption.
(Modesto Bee)


Israel Levies Pistachio Tax to Combat Iranian Imports

The Knesset Finance Committee, in a bid to block covert imports from Iran, approved a government plan for a 23% tax on roasted pistachio nuts. Roasted pistachios in Israel are imported through Turkey and appear to originate in Iran.
(Bloomberg-Jerusalem Post)


Islamist split widens

An Islamist Split on Al-Qaeda? -Clifford May

Sayyid Imam al-Sharif [pictured above] - also known as Dr. Fadl - may be the most influential Islamist you've never heard of. The Telegraph (UK) notes he was "part of the tight circle which founded al-Qaeda in 1988 in the closing stages of the war against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan."

He went on to lead an insurgency against Egypt that landed him in a Cairo prison, where he has since spent his days writing.

In a new book, Exposing the Exoneration, Dr. Fadl writes: "Have the Islamic peoples become guinea pigs upon whom bin Laden and al-Zawahri try out their pastime and sport of killing en masse?" On the 9/11 attacks he observes: "To cross the ocean to go to your enemy in its own home and destroy one of its buildings, and [in retaliation] it destroys the Taliban state - and then you claim to be a mujahid (jihad fighter) - only an idiot would do such a thing."

He criticizes Muslims who settle in the West and then take up arms against their hosts. "If they gave you the opportunity to work or study, or they granted you political asylum," it is "not honorable" to "betray them, through killing and destruction."

Al-Qaeda's interpretation of Shariah law is not just incorrect, according to Dr. Fadl - it is a "criminal school of belief." He argues that Islamic jurisprudence does not provide unrestricted permission to indulge in indiscriminate killing of noncombatants.
The writer is president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
(Washington Times)

Monday, March 23, 2009

Shalit and the Israeli Media

Noam Shalit stands in front of a sign showing the number of days that his son, Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, has been in captivity, at a protest tent. Shalit was abducted by Palestinian gunmen from Gaza during a cross-border raid in June 2006

Gilad Shalit Media Event -Yisrael Ne'eman

Over the past week there was non-stop media coverage [in Israel] of vigils and protests demanding that the Israeli government make the prisoner swap necessary to ensure the release of captured soldier Gilad Shalit who has now spent over 1000 days as a Hamas prisoner.

The Olmert cabinet is negotiating his release through Egyptian mediators but is not willing to cut a deal involving the return of certain Hamas murderers convicted of involvement in bombings which killed and injured thousands of Israelis. Approximately half of all convicted terrorists return to terrorism once freed. Yet you would barely know this from engaging the Israeli media.

Night after night Shalit's release was the main story with the Israeli government standing accused of having abandoned him. Family, friends and supporters of his freedom are constantly interviewed.

[T]hose who claim the future blood of innocent [Israelis] is far too high a price [to pay], many of whom are relatives of terror victims, are barely heard.

Even when trying to "balance" the story the [press] plays on emotions. "What would you do if he was your son?"

They do not ask the Shalit advocates "How many blood thirsty terrorists would you release” and “will you take full responsibility for all of their terror acts in the future?"

All of these protests and vigils, while being of emotional comfort for the Shalit family, have only raised the price of Gilad's release, adding more murderers to the list of Hamas terrorists to be freed. Islamists everywhere are now further encouraged to abduct or capture Israelis and/or westerners and in particular soldiers, knowing they can demand a heavy price in the release of terrorists in the future.

Gilad's freedom and security are dear to all. But let us not forget, so are the freedom and safety of all of us whether in the present or in the future. No one is worth more than Corporal Shalit, but then no one individual life is worth less either.
[Mideast: On Target]


Protesters Block Visits to Hamas Prisoners -Roee Mandel

[D]ozens of [Israelis] protested outside the Sharon Prison and blocked the entrance of visitors. Yoel Marshak of the Kibbutz Movement said, "We are here to...block visitation to [Palestinian] prisoners, as long as they are not allowing anyone to see Gilad Shalit."

The joint protest of the World Likud, Beitar Movement and Kibbutz Movement displayed a unified front in the demand to have the conditions of security prisoners changed to match those under which Shalit is held. "With Gilad Shalit held for 1,000 days now without anyone knowing where he is, we cannot have Palestinian prisoners enjoying visitation, watching television, and reading the newspapers," said Marshak.
(Ynet News)


Saturday, March 21, 2009

My tree is calling: Israel's technology shines

The Orange Tree Is Texting - Again -Stephanie I. Freid

A sensor developed by Israeli scientists sends text messages to farmers when crops need water, or to homeowners when the Ficus is thirsty.

Israel Agricultural Ministry plant physiologist Dr. Eran Raveh and his earth-scientist partner Dr. Arie Nadler spent seven years perfecting the hammer-shaped sensor that gauges moisture levels in plants and trees and sends real-time alerts to mobile phones or computers when water levels are low.

The sensor helps cut water usage and avoid unnecessary and damaging over-irrigation by providing accurate water-level feedback. "The idea behind creating the sensor was to cut irrigation costs by up to 50%," Raveh said.
(Fox News)

Friday, March 20, 2009

VideoBite: Obama uses dramatic mass communication appeal to Iran

Obama Extends Iran a Video Olive Branch

President Obama issued a videotaped appeal to Iran on Friday offering a "new beginning" of diplomatic engagement.

"My administration is now committed to diplomacy that addresses the full range of issues before us, and to pursuing constructive ties," Obama said in a message timed for the Nowruz spring holiday celebration in Iran.

He said the U.S. wanted Iran to take its "rightful place in the community of nations." "You have that right - but it comes with real responsibilities, and that place cannot be reached through terror or arms, but rather through peaceful actions that demonstrate the true greatness of the Iranian people and civilization."
(Reuters/New York Times)

Jihad humor

Click on above poster for larger image

Young Iranian blogger dies under mysterious circumstances

Iranian Blogger Dies in Prison -Robert Mackey

Iranian blogger Omidreza Mirsayafi [pictured above], who had been sentenced to two years in prison for insulting the country's leaders, died in [a] Tehran prison.
(New York Times)

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Terrorist's daughter puts Gaza in historical context

An Arab-Made Misery -Nonie Darwish

The media tend to attribute Gaza's decline solely to Israeli military and economic actions against Hamas. But such a myopic analysis ignores the problem's root cause: 60 years of Arab policy aimed at cementing the Palestinian people's status as stateless refugees in order to use their suffering as a weapon against Israel.

I lived in Gaza as a child in the 1950s when Egypt, which then controlled the territory, conducted guerrilla-style operations against Israel from Gaza. My father commanded these operations.

In those years the Arab League started its Palestinian refugee policy. Arab countries implemented special laws designed to make it impossible to integrate the Palestinian refugees from the 1948 Arab war against Israel, forcing a Palestinian identity on these people for eternity and condemning them to a miserable life in a refugee camp.

The Palestinians continue to endure hardships because Gaza continues to serve as the launching pad for terror attacks against Israeli citizens.

If the Arabs really loved their Palestinian brethren, they'd pressure Hamas to stop firing missiles at Israel. [I]t's time for the 22 Arab countries to absorb the Palestinians.
(Wall Street Journal - Europe)

Poignant Rupert Murdoch

Rupert Murdoch: I am not Jewish but...

Remarks by Rupert Murdoch, chairman and CEO of News Corporation, upon receiving the American Jewish Committee's National Human Relations Award.

In the West, we are used to thinking that Israel cannot survive without the help of Europe and the United States. Tonight I say to you: Maybe we should start wondering whether we in Europe and the United States can survive if we allow the terrorists to succeed in Israel.

[T]he "West" is no longer a matter of geography. The West is defined by societies committed to freedom and democracy. And if we are serious about meeting this challenge, we would expand the only military alliance committed to the defense of the West to include those on the front lines of this war. That means bringing countries such as Israel into NATO.

My friends, I do not pretend to have all the answers this evening. But I do know this: The free world makes a terrible mistake if we deceive ourselves into thinking this is not our fight.
[American Jewish Committee]

The inside story of the Israeli strike at Syrian nuke plant

Iranian defector tipped US on Syrian nuke plans

A top-ranked Iranian defector told the United States that Iran was financing North Korean moves to make Syria into a nuclear power, leading to an Israeli air strike that destroyed a secret reactor, a report said Thursday.

The article in the daily Neue Zuercher Zeitung goes into detail about an Iranian connection and fills in gaps about Israel's September 6 2007 raid that knocked out Syria's nearly completed Al Kabir reactor in the country's eastern desert.

Ali Reza Asghari [pictured above], a retired general in Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards and a former deputy defense minister, "changed sides" in 2007 and provided considerable information to the West on Iran's own nuclear program, said the article, written by Hans Ruehle, former chief of the planning staff of the German Defense Ministry.

"The biggest surprise, however, was his assertion that Iran was financing a secret nuclear project of Syria and North Korea," he said. "No one in the American intelligence scene had heard anything of it. And the Israelis who were immediately informed also were completely unaware."

Intensive investigation followed by US and Israeli intelligence services until Israel sent a 12-man commando unit in two helicopters to the site in August 2007 to take photographs and soil samples, he said. "The analysis was conclusive that it was a North Korean-type reactor," a gas graphite model, Ruehle said. Other sources have suggested that the reactor might have been large enough to make about one nuclear weapon's worth of plutonium a year.

Just before the Israeli commando raid, a North Korean ship was intercepted en route to Syria with nuclear fuel rods, underscoring the need for fast action, he said.

"On the morning of September 6, 2007, seven Israeli F-15 fighter bombers took off to the north. They flew along the Mediterranean coast, brushed past Turkey and pressed on into Syria. Fifty kilometers from their target they fired 22 rockets at the complex."

"The Syrians were completely surprised. By the time their air defense systems were ready, the Israeli planes were well out of range. The mission was successful, the reactor destroyed," Ruehle said.

Israel estimates that Iran had paid North Korea between $1 billion and $2 billion for the project, Ruehle said.
[Jerusalem Post]

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Arab leaders want US to pull emergency brake

Brake Lights on Iran -Michael Gerson

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and special envoy George Mitchell have returned from trips to the Middle East sobered by the intensity of Arab fears of Iranian intentions.

[H]igh-profile outreach to Iran would probably be taken by Arab leaders as American betrayal. They would assume that America is cutting a secret deal with Iran - and would be led to cut such deals of their own.
(Washington Post)

The Butcher of Sudan gets red carpet from Arab League

Arab League Rejects Arrest for Sudan's President -Albert Aji

The Arab League rejected an international arrest warrant issued on March 4 for Sudanese President Omar el-Bashir [pictured above] on charges of war crimes in Darfur, and Qatar has done the same, clearing the way for the Sudanese leader to attend an Arab summit there later this month.
(Washington Post)

Fatah leader to Hamas: we don't recognize Israel either

Dahlan: Fatah Never Recognized Israel -Khaled Abu Toameh

Former Fatah security commander Muhammad Dahlan [pictured above], in an interview on the PA's Palestine TV, called on Hamas not to recognize Israel's right to exist, pointing out that Fatah had never recognized it.

Dahlan was recently appointed as a special adviser to PA leader Mahmoud Abbas. "I want to reaffirm that we are not asking Hamas to recognize Israel's right to exist. Rather, we are asking Hamas not to do so because Fatah never recognized Israel's right to exist," Dahlan said.

"We acknowledge that the PLO did recognize Israel's right to exist, but we [in Fatah] are not bound by it."
(Jerusalem Post)

Moving in on Iran

Pentagon Chief: U.S., Israel in Agreement on Iran -Interview with Charlie Rose

Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, said:

I fundamentally believe that the Iranians are on a path to [make a nuclear weapon]. I've had that belief for some time, and I think they will continue to move in that direction. I think it will be very destabilizing in that part of world. Their neighbors are extremely concerned about it. I worry about proliferation which would occur once they get to that point. So it's not just about Iran having it. It's about what they do with it.

I've been with my Israeli counterpart a number of times, and by and large we see it the same way....We're in agreement [about the timeline] and have been for the better part of the last six months or so.

Saudi fear and Loathing - of Tehran -Olivier Guitta

To counter Iran, Saudi Arabia has built a Sunni axis, cultivating relations with the six Gulf monarchies, Jordan, and Egypt. This development was supported by the Bush administration and even implicitly by Israel.

High-level "secret" meetings between Saudis and Israelis have taken place since 2006. The Saudis are concerned about the Obama administration's overtures to Iran and are afraid that a deal will be done to their detriment.
(Weekly Standard)

Syria Says Relations with Iran Will Remain Strong

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem said that his country's relations with Iran will remain strong. His comments appear to be directed at moderate Sunni Arab countries hoping to peal Syria away from its Shiite Persian ally.
(AP-International Herald Tribune)

IDF Chief: Strike on Iran a Serious Option -Natasha Mozgovaya

IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi said that while Israel was interested in exhausting diplomatic options against Iran's nuclear program, the army must prepare itself for a military attack.

He told Dennis Ross, the designated U.S. envoy to the Persian Gulf, that Israel would not tolerate a nuclear Iran.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Why Palestinians don't make peace

Olmert: Palestinians Didn't Have Courage for Peace -Roni Sofer

Outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told Sunday's Cabinet meeting:

"The fact that we have not reached [a peace agreement] so far is first and foremost a result of the Palestinian leadership's weakness, unwillingness and lack of courage. All the rest is excuses and attempts to divert attention from the main issue."
(Ynet News)

Palestinians Support Armed Attacks Against Israeli Civilians

According to a poll conducted on March 1 - 7, 2009, 54% of Palestinians support armed attacks against Israeli civilians inside Israel, while 42% oppose such attacks.
(Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research)

A close look at the cloak of Anti-Zionism

Is Anti-Zionism Hate? -Judea Pearl

Anti-Zionism rejects the very notion that Jews are a nation - a collective bonded by a common history - and, accordingly, denies Jews the right to self-determination in their historical birthplace. It seeks the dismantling of the Jewish nation-state: Israel.

Anti-Zionism earns its discriminatory character by denying the Jewish people what it grants to other historically bonded collectives (e.g., French, Spanish, Palestinians), namely, the right to nationhood, self-determination and legitimate coexistence with other indigenous claimants.

Anti-Semitism rejects Jews as equal members of the human race; anti-Zionism rejects Israel as an equal member in the family of nations.

Are Jews a nation? The unshaken conviction in their eventual repatriation to the birthplace of their history has been the engine behind Jewish endurance and hopes [since] the Roman expulsion in AD 70.

Anti-Zionism disguises itself in the cloak of political debate to attack the most cherished symbol of Jewish identity.
[The writer is the father of murdered Daniel Pearl]
(Los Angeles Times)

The Mosque as military storage facility

The Use of Mosques for Military Purposes

According to international law, mosques used for military purposes lose the special protection afforded houses of worship. During Israel's recent operation in Gaza, evidence was extensively documented on the storage of weapons in mosques (rockets, IEDs, light arms and even an anti-aircraft gun), and about use of mosques for military training and as bases from which to launch rockets into Israel and mortar shells at IDF forces.

The extensive use of mosques by radical Islamic groups is not limited to Gaza. Similar uses are made in the West Bank, Hizbullah in south Lebanon, and radical Islamic groups in the Arab-Muslim world and in Muslim communities in Europe. In many of these locations, Islamic terrorist organizations use mosques to hide weapons, organize attacks, enlist supporters and terrorist operatives, preach terrorism, and indoctrinate Muslims with hatred for Israel, the Jewish people, the U.S., and the West.
(Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center)

Thursday, March 12, 2009

The whip for elderly Saudi woman

Saudi Court Sentences 75-Year-Old Woman to Lashes -Maggie Michael

A 75-year-old widow in Saudi Arabia, Khamisa Sawadi, has been sentenced to 40 lashes and four months in jail for mingling with two young men who are not close relatives.

The newspaper Al-Watan identified one man as the nephew of Sawadi's late husband, and the other as his friend. They were arrested by the religious police after delivering bread to Sawadi, and were also convicted and sentenced to lashes and prison.
(AP/Washington Post)

Iran's latest victim: TV show for children

Iranian TV Show Scrapped after Child Calls Toy Monkey Ahmadinejad
-Robert Tait

On Amoo (Uncle) Pourang a TV program watched by millions of Iranian children on state TV, presenter Dariush Farziayi asked the name of the toy monkey his young caller had been given as a reward for good behavior.

"Well, my father calls him Ahmadinejad," the child replied.

As a result, the program has been cancelled after a successful seven-year run.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Starbucks: Muslim cleric sees Jewish conspiracy

Egyptian Cleric: Starbucks Logo Is Jewish Queen Esther

Egyptian cleric Safwat Higazi said on Al-Nas TV:

In the Starbucks logo, "have any of you ever wondered who this woman with a crown on her head is? Why do we boycott Starbucks?" "The girl you see is Esther, the queen of the Jews in Persia." "We want Starbucks to be shut down throughout the Arab and Islamic world."

Monday, March 09, 2009

Sleazeballs support sleazeball: Butcher of Sudan finds warmth from Jihadis

Iran, Hamas, Hizbullah and Syria Back Sudan's President Over Darfur

Officials from Iran, Hamas and Hizbullah joined Syria's parliament speaker and the leader of Palestinian Islamic Jihad for talks in Khartoum, to express support for Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir [pictured at right].

The visit comes days after the International Criminal Court at The Hague issued a warrant for al-Bashir's arrest on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity in Sudan's Darfur region.

Ali Larijani, Iran's parliament speaker, said the ICC arrest warrant is an "insult directed at Muslims."

Meanwhile, the Khartoum government shut down 13 foreign and local aid agencies after accusing them of passing information to war crimes prosecutors.

Social decay in Iran?

Sex, Drugs and Islam -Spengler

Iran is dying.

The collapse of Iran's birth rate during the past 20 years is the fastest recorded in any country, ever.

An analysis of the 2006 Iran census shows a fertility level of 1.9 for the whole country and 1.5 for the Tehran area. In 1980, the fertility rate in rural areas was 8.4 while that of urban areas was 5.6. It seems that a spiritual decay has overcome Iran, despite the best efforts of a totalitarian theocracy. Popular morale has deteriorated.

In addition, with oil at barely one-fifth of its 2008 peak price, they will run out of money some time in late 2009 or early 2010.

Prostitution has [spread] among educated Iranian women. The Austrian daily Der Standard reported on Feb. 3, "More than 90% of Tehran's prostitutes have passed the university entrance exam."

Furthermore, the UN Office of Drugs and Crime estimates that Iran has as many as 1.7 million opiate addicts, 5% of Iran's adult, non-elderly population. That is an astonishing number. The closest American equivalent found that 119,000 Americans reported using heroin within the prior month, or less than one-tenth of 1% of the non-elderly adult population.

Iran's startling rates of opium addiction and prostitution reflect popular demoralization. According to an unpublicized Iranian study, 36% of Iran's youth aged 15 to 29 years want to emigrate.
(Asia Times-Hong Kong)

Saturday, March 07, 2009

VideoBite: First US citizen suicide bomber

Terrorist Group Recruits in Midwest -Lolita C. Baldor

U.S. counter-terrorism officials suspect that the al-Shabab organization is recruiting young men from Somali communities in Minnesota and other Midwestern states, luring them back to their home country for terror training, and creating cells of fighters who could travel to other countries, including the U.S., to launch attacks.

Four months ago, a young Somali man left Minneapolis to become a suicide bomber. He detonated a bomb he was wearing as part of coordinated attacks targeting a UN compound, the Ethiopian consulate and the presidential palace in Somalia's capital, the first known time a U.S. citizen was a suicide bomber.

Reflections on Gaza and beyond

Can Hamas Be Deterred? -Steven Klein

The limited war in Gaza has left Hamas more convinced than ever that it can survive Israel's worst blows.

Israelis Still Under Fire

Atara Orenbuch, a mother of six children in Sderot, reports:

"Today we had two Kassam rockets. Every time there's a Red Alert, you drop everything and run to shelter. You lose a heartbeat each time. I know my children are safe in school, but it's the journey there and back I worry about. The terrorists love that time between 7:30 and 8:00 a.m. Every morning, we get into the car and we don't know how it will end. I've felt like that for eight years."
"After the war there was one week of quiet....But once the first rocket exploded after the war - that was it. The war didn't do enough."
(BBC News)

U.S. Lawmaker: Release Soldier or No Gaza Aid -Natasha Mozgovaya

A new initiative by members of the U.S. Congress seeks to condition the transfer of $900 million for the Palestinians on an end to rocket fire on Israel from Gaza and the release of kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.

Rep. Shelley Berkley (Democrat-Nevada) drafted a petition to Secretary of State Clinton which demanded that the financial aid be delayed for as long as the rocket fire continues and Shalit remains in captivity.

U.S. Lawmakers Urge Tighter Palestinian Aid Controls

Rep. Mark Kirk (R-IL) blasted UNRWA's accounting practices as likely to enable Hamas to siphon off some of a new U.S. aid pledge of $900 million for the West Bank and Gaza.

If the group managed to grab 10% of that package, "the United States taxpayer would be then the number-two financial supporter of Hamas after the government of Iran," he said.

Can We Give to Gaza Without Giving to Hamas? -Claudia Rosett

If stuffing billions worth of aid into the Palestinian territories could end Islamist terrorism out of Gaza, it might be worth the money. The broad aim of the donors' conference in Sharm el-Sheikh was to bypass the Iranian-backed Hamas terrorists who control Gaza, and shovel resources for strictly humanitarian uses into the enclave "in coordination with" the Palestinian Authority, run by Fatah, Hamas' rival, based in the West Bank.

This is despite a record which suggests that decades of aid to the Palestinians have fostered not peace but continuing violence.

The likelier scenario is that this new multibillion-dollar wave of aid will boost Hamas, which is dedicated to the destruction of Israel and hostile in its principles to Western democracy. As long as Gaza is controlled by Hamas, any aid funneled into the enclave is one dollar less that Hamas might be impelled to spend on upkeep of its turf, and one dollar more available for terrorist activities.

Hillary Clinton and George Mitchell Will Not Succeed -Shmuel Rosner

What have we heard from Clinton?

More money to the Palestinians in the hope that this time it will be actually given and used wisely. More subtle pressure to "ease" conditions for Palestinians, without regard to the fact that closing the Gaza border is one of very few tools with which Israel can try to pressure Palestinian radicals into ceasing their fire. More talk about "Quartet demands" to Hamas - demands that it did not meet in the past and has shown no desire to meet in the future.

More "vigorous" diplomacy cannot change the current situation.
[New Republic]

Hamas isn't open to compromise -Barry Rubin

Perhaps it is true that peace can only be made with enemies, but this is only true regarding those who no longer want to be enemies.

[T]o add Hamas to the PA would not make a more moderate Hamas, but a more radical PA. It would, in fact, destroy any possibility for peace whatsoever.

Hamas is not going to be changed by any soft-line approach, no matter how much people wish that were the case. The answer is to defeat them by supporting their would-be victims; to show that moderation pays and fanaticism costs dearly.

Not the Time for a Palestinian Unity Government -Yossi Alpher

The emergence of a Palestinian unity government in the near future could be a disaster. A new unity government almost certainly means a formula for holding elections for the PA presidency and parliament no later than next January. As matters now stand, Hamas is liable to win those elections, since the Fatah party has been neither reformed nor rebuilt. Thus, a unity government could quickly confront Israel with the challenge of Hamas rule in the West Bank as well as Gaza.

Extreme Gaza Makeover: NewsSpoof

Extreme Gaza Makeover -Dan Friedman

Finally, good news for a city torn by war, terrorism, political intimidation and a crippling embargo: The popular ABC show “Extreme Makeover Home Edition” is coming to Gaza City.

“My producer was just watching the news and thought, ‘Those guys could use a makeover!’” said host Ty Pennington. Although at first Pennington objected, once he was informed that the Gaza Strip was not an exotic dance, he became enthusiastic.

In this case, it will be the lucky Aziz family who will have their entire house, currently a pile of rubble, rebuilt from scratch.

“It’s a great opportunity to make these people feel really at home in their refugee camp,” said Ed Sanders, one of Pennington’s co-designers. “You learn so much about a culture,” Pennington told the Forward. “For example, all the contractors bring in their materials by tunnel. It’s some kind of a local custom.”

Pennington said that the Aziz family was “very into safety.” Although he declined to say exactly what he was designing as his “secret room” for the family, Pennington did confide that it would be “underground and blast-resistant.

Reached for comment, family patriarch Mahmoud Aziz said that Pennington seemed a little strange. “He said he’s very excited to come to Gaza,” Aziz told the Forward. “That’s the first time I’ve heard anybody say that.”
[The Forward]

Friday, March 06, 2009

Palestinian Authority calls terror incident a "traffic accident"

PA Calls Terror Attack "A Traffic Accident" -Ari Rabinovitch

A Palestinian driver rammed his bulldozer into a police car, rolling it over until it slammed into a bus at one of Jerusalem's busiest intersections before police and a taxi driver shot him dead. An open Koran was found in the driver's cabin.

Video from a traffic camera showed the bulldozer lowering its front shovel before striking a parked police car. The bulldozer then rolled the vehicle across the intersection, flipping it over and smashing it into a bus. Two officers inside the police car were injured.

Riyad al-Malki, information minister for Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas' Western-backed government, described the incident as a "traffic accident," and called for an investigation into why the bulldozer driver was shot.
(Reuters-International Herald Tribune)

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Down the drain: pouring money down the Palestinian sinkhole

New Palestinian TV - To Broadcast What? -Khaled Abu Toameh

American and European taxpayers are now being asked to fund a new satellite TV station that will broadcast from Ramallah in the West Bank and serve as a mouthpiece for PA head Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah faction. But Fatah already has a TV station called Palestine TV. The faction also has its own radio station, three daily newspapers and several [other] radio stations, in addition to at least 13 Web sites.

[T]he Fatah newspapers, radio and TV stations and Web sites have been inciting against their peace partner, Israel, and against the U.S. and Europe - the same parties that are financing Fatah and supplying it with weapons. Ironically, this type of incitement drives more Palestinians into the open arms of Hamas.

If you are telling your people day and night how bad and evil Israel is, your people will then say that this means that Hamas is right - you can't make peace with Israel or any Jew. If you are telling your people that the Israelis are war criminals and children killers and are basically responsible for all the miseries of the Palestinians, what will the people think of Mahmoud Abbas when they see him meeting with any Israeli?

The last thing the international community needs to do is to fund yet another Palestinian media outlet that promotes hatred, violence and anti-Western sentiments.
(Hudson Institute-New York)

No Pasta for Gaza

No Pasta to Gaza Until Hamas Frees Kidnapped Soldier -Marty Peretz

Hamas is still targeting rockets into the cities and towns of southern Israel.

I believe that Israel should allow no aid to Gaza until projectiles of death have stopped endangering life in Israel. Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit is still in captivity after 32 months since his kidnapping. Hamas has been playing with this man's life for all that time.

You want to put real pressure on the mad Sunni warriors? Then put real pressure on them. Let the Israelis demonstrate that no spaghetti and no boards and nails enter Gaza until this hostage is freed.
(New Republic)

Obama risks angering allies

Obama Shouldn't Sacrifice Allies To Please Russia -Michael Rubin

On March 2, "The New York Times" reported that U.S. President Barack Obama had written to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev suggesting that reconsideration in Moscow of the extent of its support for Iran's nuclear program, might result in a U.S. suspension of plans to establish a missile-defense system in Poland and a radar station in the Czech Republic.

The Russian leadership rebuffed Obama's outstretched hand.

Too often, new U.S. administrations assume that the reason for the failure of engagement lies more with their predecessors than with their adversaries. Obama is no different, but rushing into diplomatic initiatives, however well intentioned, can be costly.

Obama may see his offer to Russia as pragmatism, but gestures create precedent. U.S. allies [will] fear that Washington is willing to sacrifice [them] for the sake of diplomatic convenience.

Diplomacy should always be a strategy of first resort. But Obama should realize that diplomacy with dictatorships is not the same as diplomacy among democratic nations. If democracies can be swayed with values and incentives, altering autocrats' behavior often requires far more complex coercion, not simply letters.

If Washington is to remain strong, its alliances must remain strong. The White House must learn that the best security comes from supporting allies, not cutting deals over them.
[Radio Free Europe]